From The Straits Times Archives: What you need to know about GBS infection

The Ministry of Health said in July 2015 that it has found a link between the consumption of raw fish and GBS infection.
The Ministry of Health said in July 2015 that it has found a link between the consumption of raw fish and GBS infection.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

SINGAPORE - There was a surge in the number of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infections earlier this year.

Public hospitals reported 238 cases of GBS infection in the first half of the year, up from an average of 150 cases in the last four years.

In July, Ministry of Health said it has found a link between the consumption of raw fish and GBS infection in a limited number of cases.  

GBS is a bacteria which is commonly found in our gut and urinary tract without causing disease. GBS is also found in fish, but usually does not pose any risk.

Shortly after, the National Environment Agency issued an advisory to more than 70 raw fish porridge stalls asking them to temporarily stop selling raw fish dishes made from Song fish, or Asian bighead carp, and Toman fish, also called snakehead.

Here's a look at some of the GBS cases reported in the media, and what you need to know about the bacteria:

Serious cases of GBS infections

Man, 52, critically ill after eating raw fish dish

A 52-year-old salesman remains in critical condition at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, nearly 10 days after he ate a meal of yusheng-style or raw fish porridge.

Mr Sim Tharn Chun, who is in intensive care, has been sedated, said his wife.

Mrs Cathryn Sim, 43, told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao that a doctor said, a day after her husband was admitted, it was likely to be Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria leading to meningitis.

Read more here.  

Food poisoning victim's feet amputated

The man whose hands and feet became gangrenous after a severe bout of food poisoning had his feet amputated on Thursday, a week earlier than expected.

Technician Tan Whee Boon, 50, had his hands amputated at the wrist last Friday.

After eating a raw fish dish last month, he was hospitalised with an infection and suffered from medical complications that required his hands and feet to be amputated.

Read more here

Man waiting for amputation gets $5k gift from unknown couple

A 50-year-old man waiting to have his hands and feet amputated after a severe bout of food poisoning had a surprise visit yesterday from an unknown couple who presented him with a $5,000 cheque.

The couple who paid Mr Tan Whee Boon a surprise visit yesterday afternoon said they had read about his condition in a Chinese newspaper. "They said they sympathised with me and donated a cheque," said Mr Tan.

Read more here.

Op to drain pus from swollen knee

When his left knee swelled up, he thought it was a muscle pull from cycling.

But when the pain gave him sleepless nights, and bouts of fever started to hit him, Mr Howard Kuay realised it was far more serious. The 30-year-old tuition agency owner was eventually diagnosed with a Group B streptococcus (GBS) infection.

Read more here.

Cases related to GBS bacteria infections fall after curb on raw fish sales: MOH

There has been a fall in the number of cases related to the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria since the middle of July, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

MOH has been notified of an average of three cases a week in the last three weeks, a drop from an average of 20 cases a week at the start of 2015.

It received reports of a total of 238 cases from public hospitals from Jan 1 to June 30.

Read more here.

10 victims of bacterial outbreak say they had eaten raw seafood

The authorities here are investigating a message that went viral on Monday that claimed that there is a bacteria outbreak from eating contaminated raw fish.

One of the larger hospitals here has treated 76 cases of GBS this year, higher than the average of about 53 each year in the past five years, said an MOH spokesman.

"10 of these cases reported consumption of raw fish. Investigations are on-going as to the reasons for the increase in cases," said the spokesman.

Read more here.


What you need to know about the GBS bacteria 

What is GBS?

Who is more at risk of GBS infections? What are the signs and symptoms of GBS infections?

Answers to questions you may have about GBS infection.

Read more here.

GBS bacteria found in two types of fish: What you need to know about them

Traces of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria were found in two types of fish are: Song fish, also known as Asian Bighead Carp; and Toman fish, also known as Snakehead fish.

Here are some facts about the two types of fish in the spotlight.

Read more here.

No link between GBS infection and eating sashimi, says MOH

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has not found any links between the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection and the consumption of Japanese raw meat or fish dish sashimi.

In a Facebook post, it responded to messages circulating by SMS and WhatsApp from an unknown source that claimed a person had died recently from a bacterial infection after eating sashimi over the National Day weekend, and that a professor had been critically ill after consuming salmon sashimi two months ago.

The MOH said its investigation found only an association between the GBS infection and the consumption of "yusheng-style" raw fish sold at food stalls.

Read more here.

Scientists in Singapore crack GBS genetic code

Scientists here have decoded the genetic blueprint of the strain of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria linked to people who fell sick after eating raw fish here.

In July, researchers from A*star had taken a blood sample from a patient with GBS and used next-generation sequencing to analyse it. They found that this strain looked different from earlier strains of GBS.

Read more here.